The next time you’re racing down the slope of a mountain on your snowboard, look up — a drone may be filming you.
The Federal Aviation Administration has given approval to drone startup Cape Productions to fly drones hundreds of feet closer to people than what was previously allowed in the U.S.
It is currently illegal to operate a drone commercially in the U.S. without a so-called FAA exemption, and all of the exemptions previously granted have prohibited drone operators from flying within 500 feet of people in a public place.
But the FAA has granted Cape permission to do so, marking what could be an important precedent as the FAA continues to deliberate legalizing commercial drone use once and for all.
So how will Cape put this important precedent-setting sanction to use? To capture epic videos of your ski vacation!
The company operates out of four ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada, including California’s famous Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley and Powder Mountain in Utah. Skiers can purchase a video package from Cape, and the company will fly a drone over them as they descend. They then put the footage together in a keepsake video. It’s the same concept as photos taken of roller coaster riders plunging down a steep slope that are often available for purchase at the gift shop just outside the ride’s exit.
Cape operates on certain slopes at ski resorts and says they notify all skiers they will be filming before skiers run down the mountain.
By granting Cape Productions permission to fly drones close to people in a public setting (versus a “closed” location like a movie set), the FAA may be setting a precedent that would allow many more companies to do the same.
“This is the first time a business like this is even possible,” said Cape Productions CEO Jason Soll.
And it isn’t just the industry for creating rad ski videos that could benefit.
“The most obvious use case of drones flying over people is the case for drone delivery,” said Logan Campbell, CEO of drone consulting firm Aerotas. “When drones have to fly over your house, they have to fly over people to get there. This opens up tons of business use cases.”